Ride around (and through) the Vinh Phuoc hills

Nha Trang Travel Blog

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Fishing boat from Tran Phu Bridge

It was always nice to stop and watch fishing boats glide under the Tran Phu Bridge - for both the sight itself and for the breather from pedaling non-stop out to mid-span. After catching my breath I decided to continue north. Pagodas and temples on the tiny, close-to-shore, island of Hon Do (Red Island) were decorated with colorful flags and banners. White boats shuttled visitors on the short crossing but I am waiting until I can get checked out on paddling - and renting - a round basket boat to make that crossing. I also passed the legend-filled rocks at the Hon Chong Promontory (see 'Sunday Ride' blog) to reach the Vinh Hai beach which stretches a couple of miles to the higher hills of Cape Ka Go.

 

A couple of small fishing boats were beached near swaying palm trees and green patches of ground.

Working nets
Fishermen worked their nets while a line of women sold their catch: an assortment of shellfish, jumbo prawns, and red snapper-looking fish that were a gray color. Squid were much bigger than I had seen before. I followed less than a mile of the beach before turning inland and crossed the railroad tracks into lowland countryside. Overcast skies and a cooling breeze made for a great day to circle the Vinh Phuoc hills on the way back to Nha Trang.

 

Thick vegetation that was scattered with banana trees and coconut palms lined the base of the hills and hundreds of gravesites marked their rocky rugged slopes. I pedaled toward them around rice paddies and gardens of the occasional farmhouse. No one worked the fields.

North side of the Vinh Phuoc hills
I finally reconnected with the rail line at a familiar crossing that I had found several weeks ago. I nursed an iced coffee there at a dusty roadside kiosk and practiced Vietnamese with Linh and her younger brother and sister.

 

I was close to the Cai River and knew the two options for crossing it. The rickety Vinh Ngoc bridge was about a mile down the road and would be easiest but I decided on the more challenging railroad bridge.

The first off-road path that I followed led to a grassy pond next to a rice paddy. A narrow underpass there crossed the railroad embankment to a hillside cemetery. The hundreds of gravesites were cleaned or freshly painted from the recent Tet holiday. As I took a few photos, the colorful calm was broken by the distant horn of a train.

'Enter at Own Risk'
I scrambled up the embankment to catch a passenger train speeding toward the city.

 

From back on the road, I found a second turn-off. Approaching the rail line, another horn blasted - much closer. I made it half-way up the embankment when another passenger train thundered by at great speed. A minute sooner and I could have captured that northbound express coming out of the tunnel which was just a hundred yards to my right.

 

After seeing bicycles being walked through before, I ignored the sign that might have said 'Keep Out of Tunnel'. Loose rock discouraged pedaling. A dry and shallow trench followed the tracks on one side - if another train came I could set the bike into it and step in behind.

Boats along the Cai River
Two trains had passed in the last twenty minutes so the odds of another should be pretty slim unless they have some kind of railroad rush-hour. The risk that concerned me was the potential 'problem' and certain 'fine' for being the odd foreigner passing local's ground. As I exited the tunnel at the Cai River Railroad Bridge, a touring Vietnamese family of four were taking pictures. Even though I'll be in some, they provided a fine distraction. The signalman was washing a dinner plate at an outside faucet and never saw me walk by.

 

I crossed the Cai on the lesser-used catwalk and carried the bike across the tracks at the south end. New routes followed the river downstream and I found access at a middle-class waterside restaurant. Views were nice from that urban stretch of river: to nearby Ngoc Thao island and upstream to the railroad bridge. As I sipped a cold beer, with the ice, three tour boats came downstream and docked. A retired couple from Colorado told me that they were touring Nha Trang; part of their cruise ship stop-over between Hong Kong and Singapore. They only went upstream to the rickety Vinh Ngoc bridge but got to see some mighty fine stretches of the Cai River.

 

sylviandavid says:
Nice blog.... glad you had a plan if you got caught in the tunnel...... sylvia
Posted on: Mar 01, 2010
Dr_Seuss says:
Wouldn't have fancied it if a train had come through while you were in the tunnel :O
Posted on: Feb 20, 2010
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Fishing boat from Tran Phu Bridge
Fishing boat from Tran Phu Bridge
Working nets
Working nets
North side of the Vinh Phuoc hills
North side of the Vinh Phuoc hills
Enter at Own Risk
'Enter at Own Risk'
Boats along the Cai River
Boats along the Cai River
Red Island
Red Island
The Vinh Hai beach
The Vinh Hai beach
Catches of the day
Catches of the day
Rice and vegetables
Rice and vegetables
Farmhouse
Farmhouse
Railroad crossing
Railroad crossing
At the coffee stop
At the coffee stop
Underpass
Underpass
Train from the north
Train from the north
Cemetery on a Vinh Phuoc hill
Cemetery on a Vinh Phuoc hill
Flowers and incense
Flowers and incense
Hay for cattle
Hay for cattle
Missed train
Missed train
Bridge, biker, signal station, and…
Bridge, biker, signal station, an…
Riverside view
Riverside view
Tour boats coming down the Cai
Tour boats coming down the Cai
Nha Trang
photo by: rotorhead85